Julian Alaphilippe has confirmed his first goal of 2024 as he looks to get back to his very best after two season of crashes and below-par performances.
The former World Champion enjoyed a low-profile off season, signing off at Il Lombardia and then the Japan Cup.
After a few weeks at home in Andorra, Alaphilippe was back on the bike on Monday, albeit a stationary one, as he answered questions while on the Bkool virtual cycling platform as Soudal-QuickStep gathered in Belgium for their first get together to prepare for 2024.
“My first big goal will be the Tour de Flanders but there will already be some important races before, like Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo and all the other Flemish Classics,” Alaphilippe revealed.
“After that…. well, we’ll discuss that during the team meeting with the sports directors.”
The Tour of Flanders is a race where Alaphilippe hasn’t had a lot of luck in the past. He crashed out after a collision with a motorbike on his debut in 2020 while part of a three rider breakaway with Wout van Aert and eventual winner Mathieu van der Poel.
He finished 42nd in 2021 and chose to skip the race in 2022 to focus on the Ardennes Classics, believing that he had stretched himself too thin taking on both in the previous season.
In 2023, the Classic was again a key spring target. The Tour of Flanders, however, like much of his season, didn’t go to plan as he finished in 51st place after being caught up in a massive crash which left him with a knee injury which prevented him from lining up at Amstel Gold Race and La Flèche Wallonne.
It all added another layer of challenge to a difficult season. Alaphilippe was once been a regular on the top step of the podium but has claimed just two wins apiece the last two seasons.
The 2021 winner of the World Championships road race is certainly hoping that next season will deliver more as he gets set to start training again after the off-season, with the rider having ridden his bike just twice since the Japan Cup Cycle Road Race.
“It will be an important season for me to try to perform at the top level … that is never easy,” said Alaphilippe, who has a contract with Soudal-QuickStep which concludes at the end of 2024.
“I’m still motivated and I still have some grinta.”